Art for Young Minds
I grew up in the heart of Europe, in the capital of Ukraine – Kyiv. This city is over 1500 years old, and has incredibly rich history and culture – the depth of centuries, that is displayed in architecture, style and atmosphere. There are hundreds of museums and theatres all over the city. I probably went to the majority of them when I was small, and I remember those experiences well. When I close my eyes, I can almost feel the excitement and anticipation, and hear the crowds on the subway, as I’m holding my Dad’s hand, trying to keep up, so we don’t miss our train. And more importantly, so we can get to our seats in the National Opera Theatre before the third bell rings and lights are dimmed. And then, show time…
We didn’t have much. Living in the times of the Soviet Union, and right in the midst of its colossal collapse in the early 90s, wasn’t easy – mentally, physically and financially. But my parents made sure my brother and I were able to take advantage of all the benefits of living in the city. Every weekend it was either a folk festival downtown, an exotic plant exhibition, a pet show, a music concert, a trip to the botanical gardens, a circus show, a play or a ballet. We were spoiled, really. I have to admit though, I wasn’t always as appreciative of it then, as I am now. After most of the nights at the Opera my parents had to carry me out because I was happily sleeping to the magnificent sounds of the symphonic orchestra. And when in museums, the highlight of my experience was finding a bench and collapsing on one in the nearest exhibit area. The softer the bench, the more I liked the museum.
Mississippi Museum of Art
I love being in the city again, and having access to a multitude of museums. I have to be honest, on the way to the Museum of Art here in Jackson, my excitement was accompanied by a bit of anxiety. This time I wasn’t worried about myself. It’s my 3- and 6-year-olds that I was concerned about. Would they be bored? Would they be looking for a soft bench, like their Mama used to?
We were welcomed by the friendly staff, who presented both of my kids with a special museum tour journal and a pencil – to make notes along the way, draw sketches, answer questions and solve riddles. We were off to a great start! A very knowledgeable museum representative guided us through “Picturing Mississippi” – an ongoing exhibition that follows the evolving story of Mississippi. And to my amazement the kids followed along and even had a few things to say about the art they saw. They got very excited about the special Family corners throughout the museum – areas specifically designed for young minds to explore: see, touch, feel, try. One of those areas had a dress up wall with clothes and accessories to try and recreate George Caleb Bingham’s most famous painting – The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1846. There were a few more of those kid zones, but the cherry on top was definitely the Art Studio. It is a specially equipped craft area where children can create their own art. They can either try to recreate what they saw in the galleries, or make their own one-of-a-kind masterpiece. My family spent close to an hour in this Art Center. We were finally able to talk our kids into leaving, under one condition – that we would go back soon. And we will!
Know & Go
What: Mississippi Museum of Art
Where: Downtown Jackson
300 South Lamar Street
Jackson, MS 39201
When: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm – 5;00pm
Contact: (601) 960-1515 Toll Free: 866-VIEW-ART
The Museum has so much to offer to families and educators. Here are just a few things to take advantage of:
Look and Learn with Hoot
Every third Friday of the month is a fun, hands on learning opportunity for children up to age 5. It’s a 45-minute program that includes a storytime and, of course, a unique craft – we’re in the Art Museum, after all! Here is the best part – it is free to the public! Check out their website for up to date information.
For special exhibitions, the museum offers a guide for families to help navigate the galleries. These guides are free and available at the front desk. You’ll get information about the exhibition, artists and interactive activities you can do with your children.
Throughout the year, the museum hosts special Saturday events, just for families. These often include storytelling, art-making, in-gallery activities, and much more. Some fees may apply.
Stay tuned for upcoming events: http://msmuseumart.org/index.php/